The St. Jo Frontier Casino is bouncing back once again from another tussle with Missouri River flooding.
Officials reported Tuesday the cleanup from the most recent surge of floodwaters continues, and a more normal flow of customer interest is resuming. The doors were closed for eight days — nowhere near the 31 days from the first attack of flooding in March and April.
That sort of return will be sorely needed, with a goal of recovering lost revenue from nearly 40 days of lost business. A financial report released this week by the Missouri Gaming Commission shows the casino lost 67 percent of its total adjusted gross revenues for April compared to the same month a year ago, dropping to $1.2 million this year from $3.8 million in 2018. The business lost 48 percent in revenue for March (posting $2.2 million compared to $4.3 million in March 2018) and incurred a 12 percent drop in May revenues ($3.2 million in 2019 vs. $3.6 million last year).
“We’re going to try our best to rekindle, to recoup a lot of that revenue,” said Michael Tamburelli, the casino’s vice president and general manager.
Admissions also took a major hit, with a loss of 73 percent in April from the same time a year ago, to 24,000 from the 88,000 counted for the same month in 2018. The casino absorbed a 49 percent decline in admissions during March, with almost 52,000 from the 100,000 realized in March 2018. There were 19 percent fewer admissions in May, with that category falling to 68,000 from 85,000 a year ago.
Tamburelli said a turnaround already has started to take shape, with the casino playing host “to a very good crowd for a 4 p.m. reopening on June 6. The return of customers lasted into the weekend, he added, with parking temporarily adjusted for lots still smudged by flooding and social media helping to announce the return to normalcy.
“Our folks are coming back,” he said. “We have a lot of promotions.”
Nothing could be done until the river fell below 26.75 feet. Still, the amount of damage was nowhere near what occurred two months ago.
“The water did not get into the land base,” Tamburelli said. “That made it easier for us to get back in.”
The work of eight rented pumps helped jettison the water from the parking lots and into a retention pond before flowing back into the river. A new entrance leading to the floor was created to ensure access for players.
Again, the casino’s staff is being credited with helping speed the cleanup.
“It’s all about our employees,” Tamburelli said. “We had a lot of things to do. Everyone was back to work. We rented sweepers. We rented power washers.”
The cleanup from the initial closing was ongoing at the time of the latest inundation.
Casino officials intend to hang on to Downtown space that has been used to carry on administrative functions for a while longer. There’s no illusion that flood threats are over, with river levels monitored daily.
“We’re continually on high alert,” he said.
An adjacent pond of water created by the flood is expected to eventually drain.
The casino is working on plans for a 25th anniversary celebration, set for Saturday, June 22, through Monday, June 24. A free outdoor concert, featuring True North and Journey tribute band Revelation, will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday.